Breathe

Praise the Lord, oh my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name (Ps 103:1).

Just as I began writing about praising God from our deepest being, this song by Michael W. Smith came on the radio. It certainly captures the essence of this verse.

This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me.
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me.

The psalmist lists many treasures with which our Heavenly Father blesses us that could come only from His mercy and grace. Verse five mentions “renewing our youth.” This one is getting more and more important as the years fly by. But only our loving Father restores that youthful vigor by giving us goals and dreams and purpose each day.

…and forget not all His benefits (Ps 103:2).

And I, I’m desperate for you.

And I, I’m lost without you.

No Holding Back

Let’s throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Heb 12:1).

What holds us back from enthusiastically following God’s plan for us? In my own life it has ranged from “You don’t really mean me, God?” to “I am definitely not dong that!” From timidity to downright rebellion.

There are many other things in-between that hinder us like guilt, or bitterness, or not moving on from past mistakes, or harmful relationships.

The important thing to remember is that God would never give us a job to do without thoroughly equipping us to handle it. It is not timid-sinful-guilty-unprepared-unknowledgeable me, but rather the Creator who makes grace abound giving sufficiency in all things, and an abundance for His good work (2 Corin 9:8).

 

Blessed Assurance

If you declare (admit) with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Through the decades, up to and including the present, many religions have misinterpreted or overcomplicated God’s plan of salvation. I remember as a child thinking that my only hope for Heaven was if I died walking out of church right after confession. It was only for those few minutes that I had a clean soul (or so I thought). What a burden for a child—or anyone! It’s a sad state to be living without the assurance of a joyful eternity.

God’s plan, His free gift of salvation, is outlined several times in scripture. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins; we don’t need to. All we have to do is have faith that through His death, burial, and resurrection, eternal death was defeated.

That’s it! Not good works, penance, or any kind of punishment. Just faith plus———nothing!

We can be assured that the very second we exhale our last breath on earth, we inhale a joyous eternity.

The Robe of Righteousness

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. My soul shall be joyful in my God for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness (Is 61:10).

Sometimes I have to visualize God’s word in order to move away from the Christian clichés and more toward the impact that it carries. When God looks at me, He does not see my mistakes or even my gross sinfulness because I am completely covered with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

He doesn’t love me more than the vilest criminal or any less than the most sincerely pious saint. To those who have embraced what Jesus did to pay the price for our sin, it’s not our righteousness or lack of it that He sees.

What comfort! What security!

“When He looks at me,

He sees not what I used to be.

But He sees Jesus.”

 

Sticks and Stones

But if you suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened (1 Peter3:4).

 We are fortunate in our country that our suffering for righteousness usually does not involve physical pain. But the mental anguish that can accompany intimidation or rejection can sometimes be very painful.

Various translations of this verse direct us to not be troubled, disturbed, shaken or upset.

It is hard to imagine calling someone in that situation “blessed.” But how do those physically suffering or how did the martyrs of the past stand firm and uncomplaining? There could be only one answer—God’s grace. He promised that it would be sufficient.